In the Kitchen: Cheesecake and Chicken Wings sorta

So, my kitchen is always a disaster area. It’s the one place we can’t seem to keep up on in our house. The biggest problem with keeping it nice and picturesque is that I like to cook. Like all the time. For no reason. Oh, and I stress bake. Like some people drink or smoke, only there’s a cake waiting to be eaten once I’m done. So, I thought I could share some of my yummy finds here.

This weekend we had two “snackworthy” events – the triumphant return and glorious start of the 12th doctor on Doctor Who and our fantasy football draft. So, I wanted to make things we could munch on while we battled aliens as well as were able to eat without interfering with our mouse clicking. So, I made three different things (because I love new recipes).

1. No Bake Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Can you say – oh mah gawd? EB latches on to me as soon as she sees me pull one out of the freezer. Maisy loves them because my crazy dog is obsessed with cream cheese. So, these two all over me demanding I share. And, Josh, well, he doesn’t like raspberries. But he likes these.

I love cheesecake and I love no bake recipes so I was sold as soon as I found it. The recipe is below on the original website I used, and, to the woman who created this recipe, I thank you. The only thing I did that was different from her instructions was that I used an ice cream scoop to get the frozen mix out of the bowl and into ball shapes. They came out much prettier that way.

I love that they’re small and easy to grab. You can eat one and get your cheesecake fill without feeling like a total fat kid. You can also make them various sizes too. I made some smaller ones for EB because I knew she’s make a mess with a bigger one.

http://thissillygirlslife.com/2014/04/no-bake-raspberry-cheesecake-bites/
http://thissillygirlslife.com/2014/04/no-bake-raspberry-cheesecake-bites/

2. Buffalo Chicken Dip

I love dips. If you can put it on a chip, bagel piece, pretzel, or graham cracker, I’m sold. And I love chicken wings. But chicken wings take forever to make, and they get messy. Enter the wing dip!

Josh doesn’t eat chicken on the bone anyways. So this was really perfect for us.

Here’s the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buffalo-chicken-dip/

I did half of what the recipe calls for for just the two of us and it was enough for both of us to take leftovers for lunch the next day. I didn’t slow cook ours after it was all mixed. I popped it into a 350 degree oven until was all bubbly and delicious. The sauce I used (and love) is Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce. It taste more chicken wingy to me than the plain Red Hot. There are a lot of recipes for this dip out there, but I’ve found I like this one best because of the portions of the ingredients. I also don’t like blue cheese and a lot of recipes call for that instead of the ranch. We eat ours on tortilla chips, but crackers work just as well.

3. Reese Puffs

So, I was on pintrest (as I tend to be) and realized that, basically, if you can stuff it into a crescent roll, somewhere, someone has. And I saw snickers wrapped and baked inside of them, and I decided to try it with Reese cups.

All I did was put the Reese cups in the fridge to get cold first. Cut them each in half and then wrap a half up in the crescent dough. I baked according the packaging and sprinkled with powder sugar when done.

Reese cups are Josh’s favorite so he was pretty happy with them. photo 1 photo 2

I’m currently noshing on my buffalo chicken dip. So, I’m gonna get back to that. 🙂

Vas You Ever in Zinzinnati?

We love fall around here. Josh loves it for Halloween, scary movies, and pumpkin spice at Starbuck. I love fall for pumpkin patches and crunchy leaves and hayrides. And around here, Oktoberfest is the first sign that the cool air is coming.

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We spent Friday night at Germania Park enjoying the food, the friends, and the polka music. Ellabelle was surprisingly well behaved. She sat in her stroller and had no complaints (for awhile). Then we passed her around from person to person. Then our friend, Lisa, showed up and let her run around and she was happy to come back and sit after that.  10547536_10100653280717510_418456393389468877_n 10641162_10100653280862220_6059510678638649431_n 10385309_10100653280433080_8850532460587057952_n 10444733_10100653280308330_6930670633035250394_n 10557202_10100653280273400_7456817192540893337_n

We didn’t drink any beer (because I’m a bad German and Josh was driving), but the food…oh the food. If there’s one thing German’s are good at, it’s cooking amazing food. We had sauerkraut balls (breaded balls of sauerkraut that are deep fried), potato pancakes with applesauce to dip them in, brats, sweet corn on the cob, german potato salad, and I got my first world famous Oktoberfest chicken. They are cooked over an open pit and are ah-mazing! 10347790_10100653280118710_7575284534115935183_n

Dessert is always the best part though. We got a cinnamon crisp because we wanted to try something new. However, nothing can compare to the creme puffs. We actually ended up buying and eating two of them, and there were no thoughts to snap a pic first. (Hey, Germans aren’t known for being skinny). 10577064_10100653280902140_2152357229100406394_n

It was nice to have a night out. We so rarely go out and do things like this. I had plans to go to so many different festivals this year, but we bought a car and it seems like money is always holding us back lately. So, one night not worrying about anything but twinkle lights and the chicken dance was perfect.

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EB’s third Oktoberfest was definitely a success, and I love being able to share part of her heritage with her. Now that our tummies are full of German goodness, we can start looking forward to the rest of the heat of summer and the (hopefully) gentle movement into crisp fall air. 

year 1 & year 2
year 1 & year 2
Year 3 (and in her new I love Oma & Opa shirt)
Year 3 (and in her new I love Oma & Opa shirt)

The sender, the receiver, and the message

I remember in one of my psychology classes in college (I was a psych minor so I took a ton and can not remember for the life of me which one we talked about this in but anyway) we spent an entire chapter talking about communication. And communicating is really simple–it’s amazingly simple when you consider how much we do it.

Person A has an idea or thought that they want to share. That thought is then coded within Person A’s brain, and Person A sends out a message. Person B takes that thought in and decodes it. Then Person B understands what Person A said.

Sender -> Message -> Receiver
Yeah, Simple!

Our styles of interpretation and how we have learned to communicate as well our life circumstances are what murk up a perfectly simple process. And to avoid getting too scholarly (mostly because the old psychology notes that are permanently stored in the back of my brain are gathering cob webs and dust), communication is so simple and yet so, so very hard. It is a constant battle in the our house.

Josh and I have been together almost 8 years, married for over 3. We have grown and changed as people. We have been together through good times and bad, deaths and births, we’ve laid the foundation of a life down together, and we still communicate about as well as we did back in 2006. And it is the biggest problem in our relationship. In fact, it’s probably, really, the only problem in our relationship. If we could communicate with one another better, the other problems might cease to exist. But I’m stubborn. And he’s stubborn. I like to always be right. He does things he knows will make me angry. I’m very emotional. He has issues with identifying and processing his emotions. I let go of things and can move on. He lingers over things and draws them out for days. All these obstacles make it so that we can not communicate with each other effectively.

Yet, somehow, we’ve made it this far. And we are constantly trying to be better. We are. Our fights are always over stupid things – things that don’t matter and most of them come from that decoding. When Person B takes in the message from Person A, that’s when things get rough for us. That whole life circumstances and original learning of communication takes our supposedly straight line of communication (Sender->Message->Receiver) and turns into a great big ball of wibbly wobbly communication stuff. (If you get that reference, you’re fantastic.)

It goes from this:

Person A

to this:

Person b

which becomes this:

Person b2

and then this:

Person a2

It’s an awful cycle. And the ball of wibbly wobbly communication stuff just becomes more and more tangled and knotted like an unruly ball of yarn until there is yelling and tears. We’ve been trying different ways to keep that ^ from happening. But it does. And it will continue. 8 years is a lot knotting in the giant ball, and untangling it isn’t easy. Some people decide to just cut the string and start fresh with a new ball of yarn, but we aren’t throw in the towel kind of people. Remember, we’re stubborn. And good communication is like any other skill – it takes lot of practice to get better at it. Somehow we made it this far without realizing that we needed to make it more simple and clear. It’s also trial and error. We both get so worked up that it makes everything escalate into something it doesn’t need to be.

The last time we were having an argument we tried just writing things down in a notebook and passing it back and forth until we worked it out. Sometimes body language and voice tone can be your biggest enemy. Removing the element of having to actually talk to each other left the decoding of the message simply to seeing what the other person was simply thinking and putting on paper. It’s hard to argue back and forth like that. And it worked for that particular argument. I’m not saying it’ll always work, but, in this particular case, it did. And it’s progress.

And the real reason why communication has been something on mind lately is because of my beast mode toddler and her serious lack of communication skills. Which turns into momma’s serious lack of patience. Having is 2 year old is hard for a lot of reasons (the tantrums, the food throwing, the stripping of clothes in public, the refusal to eat foods she loved last week, the constant punching of the cat, to just name a few), but the hardest part of it, to me, seems to be the fact that she can’t just tell us what’s wrong. It’s a constant guessing game most of the time.

She knows a few words, but most of the time it’s just screaming or tears or both. And she’s recently learned to throw herself on the floor. That’s fun (not).

I know she’ll get to a point where she’ll be able to tell us what’s going on and what it is that she wants, but it’s hard. And frustrating. Yes, the definition of frustration in the dictionary has a picture of a screaming toddler underneath it.

Scene:

Whining in the backseat.

“Do you want your baby?”

Through tears, “Yeah.”

::hands baby doll::

::throws baby doll on floor::

“Do you want a book?”

Through louder tears, “Yeah.”

::hands book:

::throws book, hitting mommy’s hand in the process::

“What do you want?! Tell me what you want. Use your words”

More screaming with occasional babbling mixed in which continues until she finds her foot and removes her shoe and stops crying.

Fin.

Again, having a toddler is frustrating. And it’s not just the tantrums out of her inability to communicate. It’s also from her inability to fully understand what it is we’re talking to her about. Like, at a roller derby game, and I ask her if she pooped and she responds with a very clear “Yes” and I drag her and a changing pad and diaper and pack of wipes down the oversize steps and through the crowd to the circa 1950s bathroom where I stripped her of her outfit (including a tulle tutu) on a slightly broken, angled changing table only to discover that she did not, in fact, poop.

Or when she’s crying in the morning and I know she’s hungry so I ask if she wants a banana. “No.” Do you want a waffle? “No.” Do you want milk? “No.” Do you want a pony? “No.” (I’ll remember that kid.) So, I ignore her and pack my lunch. Next thing I know, she’s patting the front of the fridge. Of course, I already asked her if she wanted milk. Of course, this is how she tells me she wants milk.

Communication. It’s clearly gotta work both ways.

Whether its a husband or a child or whoever else, communication is vital. There’s so much miscommunication in the world as it is, I know I, personally, have to start getting better at it. There’s so much power in the way we communicate. And I realize that verbal communication isn’t the only form. Nonverbal is just as important if not the most important part of how we interact with one another. As it is, it’s all just something I will need to keep working on. If Ellabelle has shown me anything, it’s not just being able to say words, it’s how you use them.

Let me be the kind of person my kid thinks I am

A lot has changed since I’ve become a mom. Besides the obvious, that is. I’m an introvert who’s always suffered from shyness on top of the serious lack of self esteem. I opened up a bit in high school and then a little bit more in college, and I thought I had reached my true potential, as close as I was ever going to feel to being an extrovert. Then I had a kid, and I bloomed. The term “late bloomer” springs to mind, but I’m not exactly sure if what happened to me really fits the definition, but whatevs.543906_10100175016807220_683843313_n

See, having a baby changed everything about me – the way I look at the world, the way I look at myself, that way I look, the way I feel, the way I act. Everything about who I am changed. I tried to explain it to Josh because he totally doesn’t get it, but it’s true. I am not the same person I was 2 years ago. 10373989_10100567789547500_6412338567206929721_n

I don’t worry about what others think. I used to be so concerned, even if I played it off, but not now. The neighbors are sitting on the porch? Oh well, we’re gonna play in the driveway and blow bubbles and lay on out bellies and color with chalk. Greasy hair and mismatched clothes be damned. See someone I know at the grocery? Yep, I’m in yoga pants and tshirt and, yes, that is crusty yogurt on my shirt. My kid wanted to give me a hug while she ate lunch. My kids singing at the top of her lungs in the middle of Walmart? Guess what? Payback for all those annoying kids I had to listen to before I had my own. At least, mine’s confined to a cart and not running around like a total monster. 1505322_10100537782247370_2524185201423930971_n

I rarely feel beautiful. It’s a whole internal thing that isn’t even worth going into, but still it’s a daily struggle not to feel like I’m the biggest slob on the planet. But put that baby on my hip and I feel gorgeous. She’s my favorite accessory. She makes me feel comfortable and relaxed because I’ve got my little buddy with me. It’s almost as if having her with me just brings out this inner confidence I didn’t even know I had. I am mommy, hear me roar, or something. It could also be that she’s so outgoing and beautiful and everyone’s attention is immediately turned to her. This keeps people from pay attention to me and that’s all I ever want any ways. As pathetic as it is, I can hide my own insecurities behind my beautiful baby. Let her shine. Let her be loved. To love her is to love a part of me anyway. Still, there is nothing more beautiful than being a mom. 1078564_10100324672491030_1854246357_o

With her, I get to dress up and be silly without feeling like everyone’s judging me. I get to wear princess crowns and play in leaves and it’s not weird because I have a kid and that makes it total normal.

picture taken by Ellabelle
picture taken by Ellabelle

I wear a swimsuit without a second thought because she wants to go swimming. Do I feel self conscious? Hell yeah. Does it change that fact that my kid loves the water and wants to play in it? Hell no. Stretch marks and gut be damned. My kid wants to play, and that’s what we’re going to do. Plus, Miss Flat Abs, come talk to me after you’ve carried a watermelon inside your body for 9 months. We’ll see who’s got judgey eyes then. 1377573_10100373166463720_280199270_n

Being a mom has made me brave. I would never have jumped through a sprinkle before her. I would never have fed a llama before her. Now, I do. I have to be brave so she learns to be brave. Granted, I’m not running into burning buildings or dodging bullets, but being outgoing, to me, is being brave. Facing new things and taking on new challenges makes someone brave. She makes me be brave. 10620570_10100647929321750_8534121516845489860_n

She’s been able to bring a type of peace to my life. She’s the calm in a storm. My emotions are similar to hers, to a toddlers. I feel things very deeply. Anger, compassion, happiness, love – they all run deep. I react in the same way. So when I’m dealing with things, it’s hard to stop me. I’m a hurricane that just needs to run it’s course and run myself out. But, Ellabelle has this effect on me. She can stop everything in it’s tracks and bring me back down to normal. I don’t remember much at all that happened to me October 2012. Josh tells me that when I was feeling the most scared and the most confused, I’d hold her because she was the only thing that would calm me down, that would make me feel better. She’s been able to do something no one else has ever been able to do – she makes me listen, even if it’s just my heart whispering to me what it thinks she needs from me. She keeps me grounded and keeps me sane. She has made me more willing to compromise and let go of my pride. She has made me a better version of myself. 1474597_10100432361241910_747108290_n

Most importantly, she has opened my eyes to what’s really important. Someone was really rude to me at work that day? It’s over. Move on. There’s some sort of ridiculous family drama? It doesn’t matter. Arguing politics? Who cares. People wanting to push their religion? Not worth my time to even worry about. I can’t change people, and being a mom has made me realize that none of that stuff is really that important. I am able to just let most things roll of my shoulders. I can’t let silly things get me frustrated and upset when there’s a good chance that A) Ellabelle is going to notice my bad mood and its going cause her to be in a bad mood or B) Ellabelle’s going to be particularly ornery and that’s only going to enhance my bad mood. Regardless, with a toddler in the house, a living tornado of emotional outbursts, I have to work extra hard to keep my own emotions properly in check. Petty, stupid things just aren’t worth it. 12824_10100123659238200_1844291659_n

I’m living life one moment at a time, one step at a time. I’ve come realize that’s all I can do. I know I’ve heard it, but until something happens to you to make you wake up and realize it, you really can’t wrap your mind around it. I feel like in a way I’ve died. That old me is gone. I have been to the very end of everything, I have felt around on the floor of rock bottom and I’m still here. EB was my life preserve, something to hold onto in the dark. She was the sliver of hope from a lighthouse off in the distance. She saved me in every way imaginable when she made me a mom and she’s a continual reminder of what there is to look forward to. I read the news and see war and destruction and the very worst of humankind and I look at her and know she will be one of those gentle voices in the world spreading love and hope for a better tomorrow. Or at least I’m going to do everything I can to teach her to be that way. 10296167_10100585032582320_4742093574192984985_o

She has changed me and made me better. I’ve learned more from her and about myself in two years of being a mom than I ever did in 17 years of school. Everything Ellabelle does is genuine. Everything she does is the nth degree. There’s no holding back for fear of what others might say or think. She lives life on the very edge of her emotions – when she’s mad, she screams. When she’s happy, she sings. When she’s sad, she cries. There’s no huddling on the middle ground. It’s all or nothing, baby. I’m trying to be more and more like her, more genuine, every day.  10309070_10100559876051210_2043528754616114021_n

I can feel the change in me, even if others can’t see it. I’ve been changed for good. I’ve been changed for the better. Until you’re a mom, you can’t understand. And once you’re a mom, you can’t ever go back. Ellabelle thinks I’m brave. She thinks I’m funny and smart. She thinks I’m beautiful and adventurous. She thinks I’m loving and kind. I want to be everything she thinks I am. 10269289_10100562049730140_7013496600348624827_o

Yo! Ellabelle’s two!

I went back and forth on if a 2nd birthday party was necessary for Ellabelle. I kept being told that the 2nd birthday isn’t important enough for a whole party. I agreed for a moment and decided to do something special with just the three of us. After looking into ideas, I realized what I wanted to do (stay at one of those indoor waterpark resorts) was going to cost as much as a party would. And then I asked myself, “Do I think two is important enough for a party?” The answer in my head was a resounding “Yes!” She’s still an only child so we have the time, energy, and money to do another birthday party. And when I look back on her birthday and reminisce about my tiny baby and how far we come, I have to just be thankful we are both here to celebrate a 2nd birthday. Plus, she’s my baby so if I want to through her a second then I’m gonna do it. Like Josh will tell you, I do what I want.

So once I had made up my mind to do a birthday party, I knew immediately what the theme was going to be: Yo Gabba Gabba. 10463745_10100629062895220_8096906739365271840_o

There really wasn’t any other option. Up until Mother’s Days (which is when I got Frozen on blu-ray), it was the only thing she’d watch. Now, it’s Gabba and Frozen. So, I started planning. I love planning things. It means I get to craft. And craft I did. I’ve seen every Gabba episode as many times as she has so I knew every little detail that had to be made to be included in her big Gabbabration! 10572263_10100629060390240_9089317800456349_o

The tiny yucky germs and Super Soapy Pal in the bathroom reminding people to wash their hands (because that’s what Super Soapy Pal does!) 10514439_10100629062491030_2230568345789437036_o

The flying toast (Josh’s personal favorite. He even requested to have him after the party to put on his locker at work). 10553849_10100629060385250_3618171323616034556_o

The whole Gabba gang in banner form 10443225_10100629060395230_4874973589414458502_o

She was obsessed with the banner and kept trying the steal it for the two months it sat at our house before the party.

And of course, mommy and daddy had to get in the Gabba spirit! 10245551_10100629077166620_3678528003833062292_n(1)

For her invitations, I knew I was going to make DJ Lance’s boombox. I looked everywhere for gray card stock that was big enough to be folded and couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I had to get super crafty. Enter $1 gray spray paint from Walmart. I got 12×12 white card stock and spray painted both sides of it to make it boombox gray. 3 cans of spray paint and one gray foot later, they looked pretty darn good.

I then had to measure and cut the 12×12 sheets into 3 4×12 strips. After those were all done I traced and cut out red circles for the speakers and little tiny colored rectangles to make the buttons. I then hot glues all four colors together and then put them all on the cardstock. It was quite a process, but I was really happy with how they turned out. I had to keep them hidden because every time EB would see one she’d scream and steal it. 10309209_10100572613610040_5113658188167127734_n

We had her two year pictures taken at Cox Arboritum in Miamisburg, OH at the end of May. I always do them early so I can have the picture for her invitations and party. She had an adorable outfit to wear for the family pictures we wanted, and, of course, she wasn’t having anything to do with the pictures. So, I finally gave up and changed her into her Yo Gabba Gabba outfit and pulled out the Gabba items I had brought. She lost her mind and was suddenly much more corporative with us.

I took the banner and found the perfect place to hang it.

After a little mommy magic, here’s what the inside of the invite ended up looking like. imgsvr.ashx2

Not to toot my own horn (ok maybe a little tooting cause, hey, I worked hard on them), but I’m very proud of them.

I also made signs shaped like the Gabba logo and hung them up all over the place. 10465262_10100629061852310_1750587686032609934_o
As well as labeled the food. 10470883_10100629061847320_5766308935165548744_o 10480982_10100629074921120_6880038183140474031_n

And I made Muno pretzels because he’s her fravorite. 10557284_10100627677361840_1433868899449810643_n

And what’s a Gabba party without some Dazzleberry Lemonade? 10519692_10100629061832350_6833512264533987340_o

I got the cupcakes from Kroger and made the stand myself. When I was showing Josh the boxes I was going to use to make the cupcake stand he kinda made a weird face at me. I asked him what was wrong and his response? “You do too much.” Like that’s a bad thing! I wish he’d embrace my need to go overboard instead of trying to fight it. And you know what, I’m really glad I put in the effort cause I think it looked amazing. 10295423_10100629060779460_1579643056708230498_o

I got regular decorations at Party City and made sure every inch of Oma and Opa’s house had been Gabbafied. A girl only turns 2 once. 1965477_10100629061837340_2532077465061462764_o 10494921_10100629060774470_2494508798152817354_o

The party went well. I made way too much food, but you can never really anticipate how many people are going to actually show up. And, EB had fun, and that’s all that really mattered. She was very happy and loved the attention. 10568857_10100629075589780_4854521169466762115_n

Olaf selfie!
Olaf selfie!

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She’s very blessed to have so many people who love her. I know she had a great time and I’m glad I decided to go ahead and do it. Years from now, when I look back, I’ll remember how happy it made her to be surrounded by so much Gabba and so many people who laughed all her goofiness.10406807_10100629076707540_7583352158532180786_n 10487426_10100629076917120_7037311751274202740_n

And needless to say, she partied hard and passed out harder.10371682_10100629077001950_4517260868599519595_n

Happy Birthday (again) to my wonderful Baby Bee! We love you and think you’re AWESOME! imgsvr.ashx